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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 4, 2010 12:00pm-5:00pm EST

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growth. the president does not put a cap on emergency spending, but this amendment would. the president has requested more than $700 billion in this budget for defense, including the cost of war. this amendment only allocate allocates $614 billion. specifically this amendment only allows $50 billion for the cost of overseas deployments. as such, it fails to fully cover the cost of the wars in afghanistan and iraq. if we want to support our men and women deployed overseas, we would need to get 60 votes. does the senate really want national defense to be a hostage to the 60-vote threshold?
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madam president, the critical flaw in this amendment is that it fails to do anything serious about deficits. it fails to address the two principal reasons why our fiscal house is out of balance. it is a fact that the growth in the debt has resulted primarily from unchecked mandatory spending and massive tax cuts for the rich. and this amendment fails to respond to either one of these two problems. in short, madam president, the amendment is shooting at the wrong target. moreover, this amendment also wants to raise the threshold on discretionary spending increases 67-vote approval, allowing one-third of the senate to dictate the majority.
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we already have a threshold of 60 votes required in increased spending for emergencies above the budget resolution. i, for one, cannot believe that the senate wants to let a mere one-third of the senate dictate to the other two-thirds whether an emergency is a bona fide one. this is the wrong direction for this institution. mandatory spending has run wild in the last few years. tax cuts for the rich have constrained revenues. but neither tax cuts nor tax increases nor mandatory spending would be subject to 67 votes. the senator from alabama says this approach worked to balance the budget in the 1990's. well, madam president, that the only partially correct, and it is critical that my colleagues
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understand the difference. in the 1990's, our budget summits produced an agreement to cap discretionary spending, but they also increased -- decreased the mandatory spending, and they increased revenues at the same time. it was only by getting an agreement in all three areas at the same time that we were able to achieve a balanced budget. madam president, let's be clear, many of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are happy to put a cap on discretion -- discretionary spending but they don't want to put policies in place to make certain we have enough revenues to reduce the deficit. any honest budget analyst can tell you we will never achieve a balanced budget just by freezing
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discretionary spending. we could eliminate all discretionary spending increases for defense, other security spending, non-defense and still not balance the budget. moreover, madam president, if we freeze discretionary spending without reaching an agreement on mandatory spending and taxes, we will find it very difficult to get these -- those who would not want to address revenues to compromise. i wish to remind my colleagues that the administration has just announced it will create a deficit-reduction commission to help us get our financial house in order. it will look at both revenue and spending and find the right balance to restore fiscal discipline. they'll make their recommendations to the congress and the majority leader has
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committed that the recommendations of that commission will be brought to the senate for a vote. the commission will certainly not focus solely on discretionary spending. if we are going to cap discretionary spending, we must have similar controls on revenues and mandatory spending. madam president, the commission has been created precisely for this reason. rather than rushing to address only one small portion of the issue, the senate should await the judgment of the deficit-reduction commission which will cover all aspects of the problem. as chairman of the appropriations committee, i agree that everyone should tighten their belts. the problem with this amendment is that all the tightening will be done on a small portion of spending, while revenues and mandatory spending would still be unchecked.
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madam president, each of us was elected to serve our constituents, but we do not necessarily agree on the best way of doing that. we have some members who would want to hold down tkpwoflt spending, be and so they do not seek earmarks or the program increases on behalf of their constituents. i don't agree with them but i respect their views. we have others who believe the best way to represent constituents is to seek earmarks on their behalf. but, madam president, those who seek earmarks should recognize that funding those programs puts pressures to increase government spending, not cut it. i, for one, believe it is inconsistent to insist on getting earmarks for our constituents and supporting
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other spending increases while at the same time mandating that we cut spending for discretionary programs. chairman byrd once stated on the senate floor that sooner or later every member comes to the appropriations committee for help. i would note that last year the appropriations committee received requests for earmarks for more than 90 members of this body. the senator from alabama was among those seeking earmarks. for fy 2010, the senator requested earmarks totaling more than $400 million. i ask my colleagues, how is the appropriations committee supposed to live within the tight constraints of these proposed spending limits over five years and still satisfy
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those earmarks? i would also point out that like many other senators, the senator from alabama has come to the floor on many occasions to seek additional millions of dollars for support of building a fence along our southwest border. the total cost of that fence is estimated to be around $8 billion. madam president, it would be virtually impossible to provide the billions required for this fence under the terms of the amendment offered by the senator. other senators have supported launch program increases, such as adding $2.5 billion to continue the c-17 program. i've strongly supported continuing the c-17 program, but all members should realize if the senate wants to cut
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discretionary programs like the c-17, are unlikely to continue to be funded. we can't have it both ways, madam president. we simply cannot get funds we believe are essential for our constituents or support our programs which we believe are of national importance, like the border fence or the c-17, at the same time as we cut our discretionary spending. each and every member should think about their need for funding for their states, their constituents and the nation before they vote on this amendment. madam president, the senate rejected this flawed plan just six weeks ago. this amendment hasn't gotten any better in that intervening period. it is still shooting at the wrong target, and it fails to
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address the real causes of our deficit and national debt. it is not the same as the president's plan. and, therefore, i urge my colleagues once again to vote "no." i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. brown: thank you, madam president. i ask unanimous consent to ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you. madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. brown: thank you. i was hoping i could address an amendment i have on the floor today. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you.
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madam president, i come to the floor of the senate today to give my first speech as the, one of the senators from massachusetts. first, let me say that i'm deeply honored to have been elected to serve in this great and historic chamber. in addition, i'm pleased to have the opportunity to address my colleagues and the american people and all the folks up here watching us for the first time about legislation that i'm introducing, and it's called the immediate tax relief for american workers amendment. madam president, families in massachusetts and across this great nation are suffering through these tough economic times. and one year after congress has passed the stimulus package, americans are still struggling to pay their bills, to save money for college, and to buy groceries just to put on their kitchen tables. but in washington, the federal government is driving up our debt and creating government waste on projects that, in my
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opinion, don't create enough private-sector jobs or provide immediate relief for the american workers. the hundreds of billions of dollars that we've spent, and continue to spend, on the stimulus package have not created one new net job, and most americans believe that washington is not using the money effectively enough, especially while many americans are suffering and needing immediate and real relief. in fact, the federal government right now is sitting on approximately $80 billion of so-called stimulus funds that are either unused or unobligated to specific projects as of this date. and that $80 billion in taxpayer money is stuck in what i consider a virtual washington slush fund, potentially used for special interest projects or so-called core projects that many of us personally object to. madam president, i feel and others feel it's time to put this money back to work immediately and put it into the
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pockets of hard-working americans and american families so they can help to get what they need. for example, they can provide for their families, they can save for their future and put real money back into the struggling economy. so by providing an immediate across-the-board relief -- tax relief for working families is not complicated economic policy. what i think, i think it's simple and common economic sense. and leaders on both sides of the aisle, from president john f. kennedy to ronald reagan, have often called for across-the-board tax cuts to put money immediately into people's pockets to help stimulate the economy. and i also believe that this is a perfect taoubt to do -- opportunity to do the very same thing. and i believe that individual citizens know better. people up here watching, they know better how to spend their own money than we do in terms of spending it for them. and the immediate tax relief for american workers amendment that
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i'm proposing would cut payroll taxes and have across-the-board tax relief for almost 130 million american workers, madam president. that number again: 130 million people in the american workforce, including more than 3 million people in massachusetts, would have immediate relief. now, 130 million workers would receive that immediate and direct tax relief by turning the estimated $80 billion of unobligated stimulus moneys and accounts over to the american people. our workers would see their payroll taxes reduced by over $100 per month, up to $500 per person, $1,000 per couple. within a six-month period. could be complemented within 60 days. some people in washington may not think that $100 or $500 or $1,000 is a lot of money, but i
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can tell you, i know the value of a dollar. the people in my state know that's real money. that's money that can be put into their pockets immediately and spent to pay for oil, food, medical bills, everyday basic needs. and the american people need this relief, madam president, and they deserve it. families would immediately get the help they need to pay their bills. and we would put real money back into the economy, helping start a true recovery. and unlike tax cuts of years past, this one is paid for entirely. it will not increase the deficit and it -- can be implemented within 60 days. it would be paid for with the unobligated stimulus funds that are currently sitting in the slush fund in washington, d.c. nothing -- in my opinion, madam president, it does nothing -- nothing right now to stimulate the economy that's struggling as we know it. and not to do this, i feel, madam president, would be a
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mistake and a disservice to the people who pay the bills and those are the american taxpayers. and let me be clear. my amendment would not add one penny to our federal deficit. and let me remind my colleagues in this chamber that bipartisanship is a -- is a two-way street. it's not just a one-way street, madam president. and you commented to me, and others have, that they appreciated my effort to reach across the aisle last week and -- and help pass the jobs bill that the majority leader was pushing to put people back to work not only in massachusetts but in your state, in your state, and every state in this country. and i took some heat for it. but i held firm and looked at the bill with opened eyes, as i told the majority leader and the minority leader and all my colleagues that i would do. it wasn't perfect, but i felt it was a good first step. so that effort of bipartisanship was evident with me last week.
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and many of you came up to me and said, boy, what a nice new tone you've set, senator. we're proud you're here. we're happy to see that bipartisanship. well, let me tell you, when i see a good idea, i plan on supporting it whether it be a good republican idea or a good democrat idea. as long as it puts people back to work, it has a way to get paid for and it makes good sense for my state and the people of this country, i plan on voting for it regardless of special interest groups, regardless of the party, regardless of what anyone else says. madam president, this is a chance to show the american people that the partisan biggerring -- bickering is over. this will put money into people's pockets in 60 days. up to $1,000 per couple. i know many people who can use that money right now. with so man people struggling, i
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don't think it is time for political gamesmanship. the time is now to do the people's business. i have always felt that we can do better. the fact that i'm here has sent a strong message across this country. and the people in my state and across the country that supported me in record numbers are saying, you know what, scott? we can do better. when you get to washington, work across party lines and get the engine going a little bit and get the people's business done. this is my first amendment to a jobs bill. it makes fiscal sense. it's something that has been done in the past. j.f.k. and ronald reagan called for across the board tax cuts and it worked. we have tried targeted tax breaks, a little bit here, a little bit there. why don't we give it back to the american people and see what they can do with that $1,000 and see what they can do to stimulate the economy. let's give them a chance. and with the immediate tax
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relief for american workers amendment comes to a vote, my colleagues will have a very, very clear choice. they can support a measure that will immediately put money back into their constituents' pockets and into the economy or we can along with the business as usual approach in washington and leave the $80 billion in unused stimulus money in that slush fund to be used in years from now. the money that we're taking is not allocated. it's not even -- it's just hanging out there. and it's unlikely that we're going to put it back to reduce the deficit. so let's put it to work in 60 days so people can use it and when the summertime comes and they can go out and do whatever they want for it. we can create a bureaucracy or more jobs, but i have confidence in the american people that they will do what they've always done. they've reached down, they've tightened their bets. they've -- they've made a difference and they're the folks that are going to help us get
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out of this struggling economy. i'm not going to point any fingers. i'm not going to say it's their fault or their fault. i don't care whose fault it is. i was sent here to deliver a message from the people of massachusetts an all of the hundreds of thousands of people that supported me, and that is we can do better. let's get the economy going. and this is a simple, simple amendment. and i'm hopeful that we're going to get bipartisan support on this. i can tell you it is very easy to use procedural points of order to try to, you know, belay this particular amendment. and then it gets lost in the shuffle. that's very easy to do. we can do a procedural point of order to delay action on the economic emergency facing american workers. by golly, i'm not going to do it. i'm going to do everything i can do on every single day to make sure that i can put as much money back into the american people's pockets so they can do what they do best. they can save, they can care for their families. they can do what they've ton for
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years, -- done for years, and that's help stimulate this economy. afterall, that's what, madam president, you were sent here to do, and, sir, you were sent here to do and the people up here and the people watching sent us here to do is get back to work. you know, solve the problems. let's move on. and this is a great opportunity to do just that. i'm hopeful that i'm going to get some support on this. and, madam president, i believe there may be others speaking, so i respectfully yield back the balance of my time. thank you. mr. sessions: madam president? the presiding officer: the
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senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i would just say i appreciate the remarks of the junior senator from massachusetts and he's come off the campaign trail. he's talked to thousands and thousands of people all over his state and heard from, i guess, millions from around the country and we should listen to some of the things he's telling us to what he's telling us. because it strikes me we too often in this body are a bit insulated and we fail to see that people are asking of us to make some changes in what we do and we think we just have to continue to operate the way we're continuing to operate. that's not what i'm hearing in my town haul meetings. i doubt -- town hall meetings. i doubt anybody listening in their town hall meetings are hearing business as usual is what they want us to do.
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what i'm hearing is a great concern and expression of regret and in some cases frustration and anger over the amount of money we're spending and how recklessly we're heading about it. so i guess that's what i'm here today to talk about the. the bill that senator claire mccaskill and i have offered. it's a bipartisan bill. it had quite a bit of democratic support last time. we came within just a few votes of reaching 60 votes and passing it. and i'm hopeful today -- we made some alterations that could appeal to some of my democratic colleagues, and maybe they would be able to support it now. and i believe it would make quite a positive step in how we fund our government and how much debt we rung up. in the 1990's the idea was
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placed into law that said that money -- that the budgets that we pass should have statutory language and should actually be made a part of statutory law. and so we did that and -- and in the 1990's we began to see shortly after that, a contain trainment of the surge and -- containment of the surge and growth in spending. the growth was far more modest. as a result by the end of the 1990's, we had a surplus. president clinton claimed great credit for that. i think he sometimes fail to recall that -- that the congress acted and ultimately congress has the power of the purse. no money can be spent that we don't authorize and appropriate. nothing can be spent by the president or any other cabinet person that congress hasn't awth
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rides to be spent. -- authorized to be spent and appropriated to be spent. so that's the deal. and this legislation would put what we call caps or limits on discretionary spending that's non-defense, nonentitlement, not counting social security or medicare. not those kind of things much the discretionary accounts -- things. the discretionary accounts that we have in the senate. it would put limits on it. what limits did we choose for fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2014. this would be the budget resolution that we're under right now, passed by a democratic majority and the president of the united states is his projections for and our projections -- the congress's projections for spending growth in the next four years.
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so it allows that budget resolution that we passed for a 2% increase per year in both defense and non-defense spending. the caps in the amendment are exactly those we voted for in last year's budget. what it happening is that we're not standing firm with the budgets that we pass. we know that's a problem for us and we need to discipline ourselves. and what we learned is from 1991, i believe, through 2001 up to 2002, when we had statutory caps on spending, it helped us contain spending. and we did not surge discretionary spending as much as had been the case earlier. and when it ended in 2002, the spending started back up again. and not only did it start up, it's now reached a level of growth the likes of which the
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country has never, ever seen before. last year our total deficit for the year was $1,400,000,000,000. this year it's going t to $1,400,000,000,000, $1,500,00 to $1,400,000,000,000, $1,500,00 0,000,000 when we end. we've never had anything like that before. it's a stunning development in how much we're spending and how little we're paying for what we spend. this legislation would not impact the bills that have already passed. some say, well, you might try to stain the stimulus bill we passed. no, that's already passed. it wouldn't be covered. none of the other bills would be covered. indeed, as part of our discussion with our colleagues in the senate about their concerns concerning the legislation the last time we voted on it a few weeks ago, we exempted this year and we are spending pretty substantially
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this year. well above our budget. well above our budget. and we have people say, well, jeff, i'm concerned about this year, i want to spend more this year. but next year we've got to get this house in order. so we're well into this year already. so i guess the -- my decision would be, okay, that's a request i'll just accept. and senator mccaskill agreed and so we're asking that this limit be placed beginning next fiscal year, not this fiscal year. it's very, very similar to the plan proposed by president obama in his state of the union message and his -- in his physical -- and his fiscal year 2011 budget. president obama actually went further saying that he wanted to see a freeze on a lot of these accounts. our bill would allow a 1% to 2% increase in spending on these accounts. he's saying that a freeze would
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be better. so, jeff, are you saying that you want to spend more than the president? no. and i would be supportive of maintaining the freeze that the president has suggested. but i would say based on our history and what we've seen from statutory caps that if we pass this 1% to 2% increase cap, then we might be able to stay within it. and at least stay within that because last year we -- our increases were about 8% or more in -- in spending. and we all know we've got to do better and our budget says we'll do better. so this would give some strength to that. it specifies spending for defense and non-defense programs consistent with the budget resolution. it contains a $10 billion per year emergency fund, which is also in the budget resolution, that we'll set aside $10 billion
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this year, and we should do at least that amount each year, and that will be for resources we can use if a genuine emergency arises and we need to have emergency funding. so we'll set that aside. it requires a two-thirds vote of 67 senators to waive the annual caps on the emergency $10 billion fund. all right, well, that is stronger than we've had before. we've had a 60-vote cap. but we know we're spending at a very, very reckless rate. and contrary to what people say, we've had bipartisan support for all kinds of emergency spending, and usually 90 or 100 votes for hurricanes or earthquakes or things of that nature. at any rate, we think that the 67 votes would say to this
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senate that we're serious about it, and this should be a legitimate reason to waive the budget to spend more money, and one that can be defended. and also it would say that why don't we find money elsewhere within our budget through efficiencies and other ideas to contain that growth in spending and maybe pay for some of it first before we just send it to the credit card, send it to the debt. it does not apply the caps to spending for any military action. i know senator inouye and others have raised the question: will it deny soldiers in the field support? it would not apply the caps to any military action in which the congress has provided a declaration of war or authorization to utilize military force.
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that, i think, is an appropriate way to handle it. it would be exempting those kind of situations. so, this is really similar to what the president has called for and what congress did throughout the 1990's with bipartisan support. this amendment has been evaluated by some of the best budget minds in america, independent groups that are respected, who understand the nature and problems of our congress and how we tend to break our budgets and not stay within them, and they're terribly concerned about it. they're issuing reports and so forth. many of those have endorsed us. i guess one of the best-known groups is the concord coalition. they endorse the amendment. the committee for responsible federal budget, that includes some of former o.m.b. -- office of management and budget people -- or congressional budget office people. they work together for
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responsible federal budgets. they support it. citizens against government waste, the national taxpayers union, the heritage foundation, alice rivlin, who was the first head of the congressional budget office and was the head of the office of management and budget under president clinton and is now a brookings institute senior fellow, she supports it, as does douglas holtz ecan, another -- holtz aiken, he was c.b.o. director under president bush. so this amendment is supported by a majority of the members of the senate budget committee. the last time it was considered. and it gives the budget committee really more ability to try to make sure that their budget is not abridged and broken. what about some questions and answers that we ought to ask? will this bill prevent the federal government from responding to legitimate emergencies? and the answer is: no, it will
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not. we've got $10 billion set aside anyway, set aside right up front. it's included in our budget resolution from last year, and that money can be ao*us ao ut lied for -- can be utilized for any emergency. second, the emergency appropriations, for example, for 9/11, after the 9/11 attack, the 2004 tsunami, hurricane katrina, all passed with overwhelming support in the senate. 93 votes-plus each and every time. so this is far above the 67 votes. not a single emergency natural disaster bill since the emergency designation was created in 1991 -- and there have been quite a few -- has gotten less than 67 votes. to say that -- denounce the right to respond to a legitimate
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emergency is not correct. would the bill prevent congress from funding the missions in iraq and afghanistan? as i said, this threshold of 67 votes would not apply in cases -- quote -- "of the defense budget authority if congress declares war or authorizes the use of force." close quote. in addition, all emergency war supplementals for the global war on terror have received far more than 67 votes anyway. question: would the sessions-mccaskill bill prevent congress from caring for veterans? that's been raised a good bit. the fiscal year 2010 budget resolution incorporates significant increases in funding for veterans. an 11% increase fy 2010 which built on large increases in fy 2008 and fy 2009. a significant amount of veteran spending is mandatory.
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entitlement, mandatory spending that would not even be covered by this, just like social security and medicare is not covered by it. veterans programs have always enjoyed wide support in the senate, and i don't think there's any doubt legitimate concerns for veterans will be properly addressed in this prafplt it should be paid -- in this program. it should be paid for whenever possible. but if we can't do that, if we have a crisis for our veterans, i have no doubt that there will be 67 votes to take care of the veterans' needs. in fact, the emergency supplemental for veterans health care that came up in 2005 received 99 votes. veterans funding is, i think most of our members certainly would believe it ought to displace less priority items. there is a myth out there, the
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sponsors are saying this will balance the budget by focusing on non-defense discretionary spending. and this is a small part of the budget. well, it's not the biggest part of the budget and is not going to balance the budget in itself. but the fact is this: first, the amendment caps growth in both the defense and non-defense discretionary spending. second, the sponsors have never claimed the amendment would balance the budget. we've got to do a lot more than just this. the president himself estimates that his three-year freeze he proposed spending not related to defense or veterans or foreign affairs would result in a $250 billion saving over ten years, and that's real money. so, this legislation has the potential to save hundreds of billions of dollars. and if the choice is between 8% and 1% increases as we've -- 8
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-l% and 10% and the 2% or so increase that would be allowed under this budget, it would save a lot more than $250 billion over a period of time. so, madam president, i just would say how much i appreciate the support and leadership by senator mccaskill on this matter. when we voted before, all republicans but 1 and 17 democrats voted for the legislation. i expect there's at least one more vote with our new senator from massachusetts. so we've changed it to apply to next year and not this year. so that should attract more support. i'm hopeful that we can pass this. i think it would send a message to all our colleagues, to those who appropriate the money here that we're serious about them staying within the budget
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limits. we're saying to the president not only do we support you, but we're going to create a mechanism so it's going to be hard to spend more than you proposed. and we'll send a message, i think, to the financial markets who are wondering what we are doing here. if you read the financial pages, people make statements on wall street that indicate they have no confidence that we're going to reverse the trend that we're on. in fact, the trend is so stunning that it puts us on the road to tripling the national debt in ten years, from 2008 $5.8 billion in public debt held by people all over the world, governments like china; to in 2013, $11 trillion; in 2019, $17
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billion. i think we can do better. i believe all of us -- and there is a lot of blame to go around for that, and all of us deserve some of it. but we are in a position where i think we can make a difference today. this legislation, i believe, is a good step and women send a message throughout the world to the financial markets that congress is beginning to take firm steps that would contain the growth of spending. i'm pleased to see my colleague from missouri here. she's been a champion of this, and integrity in spending in all areas. she challenges waste, fraud and abuse. she understands more than most in our body that this money that we have extracted from the american taxpayer should be spent very, very carefully and we're guaranteed we'd get a quality benefit from it.
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i thank the chair and yield the floor. mrs. mccaskill: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mrs. mccaskill: at the risk of thinking that wild bipartisanship is going to break out in every corner of this place, i saw my colleague on the floor, i just wanted to take a moment to come and talk about what this represents. on so many levels. first of all, it is truly a bipartisan effort. and my friend from alabama, who i've worked with closely on this amendment, he's right, there's plenty of blame to go around. and we spent a whole lot of time on the blame game on this floor. this is a moment that we can get beyond that. this is a moment we can support our president, we can speak to fiscal accountability, which many of my friends that are in my party and many of my friends in the other party love to talk about. but there's the talk and then there's the walk. and we've got a lot of talk about fiscal accountability.
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but so often we kind of don't want to walk the walk. and this is a moment we can walk the walk. the president wants to do this. in fact, as my friend pointed out, the president's spending freeze goes further than this amendment. it goes further than what we're proposing to do. this is not an unreasonable amendment. in fact, it leaves out emergency spending, which we've talked a lot about this year. it leaves out this year because of the kind of critical economic situation we find ourselves in in this country. it leaves out wartime spending for those conflicts that the congress has authorized. but everybody else is in the pool. everybody else is in. we've got to look at over the board, the kind of spending freezes where 1% to 2% is enough in light of the deficit that we're facing. we are so close to passing this thing. we are so close.
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and i'm not sure if we succeed in passing it, that confetti is going to drop from the sky or balloons are going to come down, but they should, because it will be a moment -- maybe the first moment in a long, long time that the american people, if they were paying close attention, would think to themselves, you know, maybe they get it. just maybe they get it. if we fail to pass this thing, this modest, appropriate path to fiscal responsibility, if we fail to pass this thing, then i don't blame the people that i work for. i don't blame them if they just shake their head in wonderment. what's it going to take? how much money are we going to pretend we have year after year after year, handcuffing the greatness of this nation? because if we're really honest about it, this nation has been
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great for many reasons: our values, the strength of our military. but at the end of the day this nation's been great because we were an economic power. we were the country that efrpbl looked to about -- that everyone looked to about how we did our economy, how we promoted entrepreneurs, how the free market lifted all boats. and we will not be able to survive in economic greatness if we don't figure this out. in fact, if we look over our shoulder right now, there's a couple of big guys coming up on us, and they hold our debt. they hold our debt. so, i know i've got some fence sitters, particularly on my side. i say to all the fence sitters, this is not as aggressive as the president has laid out. support your president. freeze spending at a reasonable
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level, leaving out emergencies, leaving out wars that we have in fact signed off on in congress, and let's get busy showing the american people once and for all that we get it. thank you, madam president. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. burr: madam president, i ask unanimous coento vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. burr: madam president, at 2:00, i believe, we're going to have a series of votes. one of them is going to be on s. 3389. an amendment that i offered yesterday but chose not to speak on yesterday. i'd like to take about five minutes to share with my colleagues what the content of this bill is. in simple terms it's a sales tax holiday amendment. i think we all agree, there's no partisan difference, that our economy has shut down. that we're in a period of anemic growth. and that with anemic growth, there's no hope of reinflating employment. we're almost at a point where we need a shock and awe in our economy. something that gives confidence back to consumers and, more importantly, to manufacturers of goods. we've experienced over the last several months a replenishment of inventories of purchases made
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in the fourth-quarter predominately because of the who will day what we've seen since then is a decline -- or a stagnation of retail saisms once we get past -- sales. once we get past this, we will see a workforce not with the potential of growing it, but potentially with the outlook of possibly shrinking it. i think we're at a point where there's not one silver bullet. i think it takes things like tax credits to employers that help provide an avenue to bring somebody on new. but it requires something to go out the door. so we have neglected, i think, in many ways two areas. one, the access to credit and there are some bright minds in a bipartisan way working on that here. but also what do we do to stimulate economic activity? practically every state in the country one time a year at back-to-school time announces
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that they're going to have a sales tax holiday for the weekend limited to those items that are back-to-school items. forget the week before there were 50% off signs and nobody went to the store and took advantage of the 50% off for backpacks, pencils and paper. all of a sudden the no sales tax sign goes up for two days and it's a mass consumer frenzy to try to buy those products when there's no sales tax. i can't explain why. i can tell you it works. in 2001 when we were in an economic downturn, we did a similar thing. and i think the net result was, in fact, positive to the turn around. so what does s. 338338989 do -- 3389, it provides a tax holiday for a provided economic boost for consumers and businesses. it which i low states voluntarily to choose to pa
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participate and suspend sales tax for a 10-day period to encourage sales. the federal government, unlike in 2001, would share with states the economic costs that was incurred in lost tax revenue during the tax suspension. the federal share would be 75% of the taxes lost at the state and local level. this is cost sharing. we're going to ask the states to share it 25% in hopes that the increase in sales will more than make up for the 25% cost that states have incurred in the program. this sales tax holiday would run for 10 days beginning the first friday, 30 days past enactment of the legislation. why is that important? it's important because starting on the first friday we get two weekend cycles in the 10-day sales tax holiday. in my household it really doesn't matter what day of the week it is, we will buy
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regardless. but there are many americans because of their work schedule, because of their family schedules, the weekend is the only time they have access to do it. this legislation, i believe, would provide increased consumer confidence. but, more importantly, stimulate economic activity. stimulate economic activity with tax credits for employers that begin to hire back. match that with the capital that's needed by small business in the way of loans and i think all of a sudden we've got a formula that we can turn this economy in the right direction. it may not be a -- a plan to sustain it, but i think what we've got to overcome is the lack of confidence of the american consumer right now. legislation would require the states to notify the secretary of the treasury within 30 days of enactment and let me say for states no later than 45 days
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after the end of the holiday, the secretary of the treasury would pay the participating states their 75%. actually in the law it would say you've got 45 days to pay back. hopefully not another cash for clunkers disaster that we had where dealers weren't reimbursed for the money that they had out. again, let me just say tax holidays have a successful track record at state level. and they have provoked strong retail consumer reaction. while there's still somewhat of a new phenomenon, surveys show that the sales tax holiday favorably and it's important motivation to them to shop. now, what do i have to go on to offer this legislation? i've actually talked to retailers. i've listened to them. i've asked them for what would
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change this overnight. without exception, they all pointed to one thing, you do a tax holiday and you will drastically change the number of people coming in our stores. you will drastically change how much they purchase. this is not a tool where i'm trying to create grotesque purchasing in this country. but i am saying to the american people if we want to turn the economy around and we want to start reinflating employment, it all starts with creating retail activity. we've got an opportunity through this legislation to begin to create the retail activity that puts us on a path to recovery. i hope my colleagues in the next hour or so will consider this piece of legislation. i pay for it with unobligated stimulus money, therefore, i readily expect a point of order on the budget act on this. so the likelihood is we won't vote on this bill, but we'll
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vote on waiving the budget act. and if we waive the budget act, that would tell you that we would then agree to this language and then it would be up to the house to determine whether we've come up with a successful way to stimulate retail activity. i thank my colleagues for their consideration. i yield the floor. i suggest the absenf a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that further proedin of the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. baucus: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that at 2:30 p.m. today the senate proceed to vote with respect to the following amendments in the order listed with no amendments in order to the amendments on
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this list prior to a vote in relation thereto that prior to each vote listed here there be two minutes of debate equally divided and controlled in its usual form. after the first vote in the sequence the succeeding votes be limited to 10 minutes each and further the debate time until 2:30 p.m. be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees. stabenow amendment 3382, brown amendment 3391, burr amendment number 3389, sessions-mng cass skill amendment number 3337. further upon disposition of these four amendments, the senate then proceed to executive session to consider executive calendar 609, the nomination of william connolly to be u.s. district judge for the western district of wisconsin. once the nomination has been reported, the senate proceed to vote on confirmation of the nomination, that upon
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confirmation, the motion to be considered be considered made and laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. baucus: madam president, i yield such time as he desires to the senator from massachusetts. mr. kerry: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. kerry: thank you, madam president. i thank the chairman of the finance committee and manager of this bill. i wanted to take just a few moments to talk about the -- an amendment that i have filed to extend the emergency fund. this is the temporary assistance to needy families fund. and i hope that i can work with the majority leader who is already working with us to work through some of the difficulties in terms of the overall funding
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levels to, hopefully, have a vote on this at the earliest possible time. madam president, we have the opportunity to extend a proven program that provides genuinely desperately needed assistance to the nation's poorest families and their children. the people who are the most you'll have unusual to -- vulnerable to an economic downturn. and i'm joined by senator specter in offering this amendment to extend the temporary assistance needy families fund, the tanif, as we call it, emergency contingency fund that was included in last year's economic stimulus. it is supported by majority leader reid, chairman baucus, senator schumer, senator feinstein, senator specter, and others. and it's my understanding that
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this amendment is fully offset. the senate finance chairman baucus an majority leader reid -- and majority leader reid have been integral to the development of this amendment and i'm grateful to them and their staff for the assistance they've given us and their leadership on this important issue. so, madam president, this is not the moment in our economic recovery effort to walk away from the neediest families in the country and from a successful program that has bolstered the safety net and created jobs for the unemployed. what my amendment does is simply extend a program that is already working and working effectively. and it extends a program that was specifically put into the economic stimulus package because it's so critical to sustaining support for those neediest families at a level where it's even harder to get jobs an -- and bring back into the recovering economy.
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according to the center on budget initiatives, more than 30 states are currently using tanif emergency funds to create subsidized jobs. by this summer these programs will have provided subsidies for more than 100,000 jobs. and that number could grow substantially with more time and more money. let me just share for colleagues sort of the breadth of these kinds of things. some of the examples of the job placements that have been made and created through the tanif emergency fund range from administrative jobs, project management, secretary, legal secretary, data entry clerks, merchandise listers, dispatchers, marketing sales. construction, painters, laborers, general laborers, surveyors, so forth. customer service, porters, cashiers, house keeping, front desk clerks.
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food service, catering managers, food preparation, food delivery. health care, medical bills, medical record clerk. there are maintenance jobs, production jobs, human service positions. it covers the full range of the american economy and it makes a difference in communities to people's literally to their sustainability and to families being able to hold together and stick together. some states are using the tanif fund to extensively help offset higher basic assistance cost and provide emergency aid to struggling families such as the basics of heating assistance, housing assistance, domestic violence services and transportation help. this amendment maintains the current policy of reimbursing states for 80 cents on every dollar spent on subsidized employment or basic assistance
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or short term or emergency aid. and the amendment adds a fourth category of programs that can receive emergency funds, and those are work programs. as families continue to struggle to find jobs with the high unemployment that we're facing, this category has been added in order to give states new options for bolstering employment and job preparation. this amendment would provide states with a maximum allocation for fiscal year 2011 equal to 25% of the state's annual tanf block grant. i'm pleased to say that massachusetts has been one of the top-five states in using these emergency funds. we've currently used 65% of our available funds. it doesn't mean we're using someone else's funds. these are the funds that are available to us. but it shows you where the need is important and necessary and what a difference that it makes. we're on track to draw down 100% of the emergency funds that are allowed under the recovery act
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by september of this year. and we're using this fund to maintain key existing safety net programs for cash assistance, emergency housing, rental vouchers, job programs and family services. this basic assistance helps the economy because the families receiving it spend virtually every cent of it in their local economy immediately to meet the basic needs that they have. a one-year extension of the tanf emergency fund could provide an additional $60 million to $108 million to provide us with the caseload increase we've seen since the start of the recession. i believe this is -- you know, this is a fundamental continuation of the social contract that exists in this country where we've all come to understand that communities are
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sustained and enormous differences made in the lives of children particularly, but in families, the neediest families in our country, many of whom have the hardest time finding jobs because they're at the bottom end of the entry level of job levels in many cases, and they are the most -- those are the jobs that have been lost the fastest and the quickest. and they are the slowest to come back in many cases. i'm pleased to say, mr. president, that this legislation is supported in a bipartisan way from bipartisan organizations, including the national governors association, the national conference of state legislators, american public of human services association, and the national association of state tanf administrators. this has created both direct
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jobs, job creation, and it has provided enormous amount of necessary activity in local communities. so, a vote against this amendment would leave an awful lot of folks unemployed, low-income parents without work opportunities and without the vital assistance of basic necessities. and i hope all my colleagues will support this amendment when the time comes. mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts is recognized. mr. kerry: have the proceedings of the quorum call been commenced? the presiding officer: yes. mr. kerry: i ask unanimous consent that they be dispensed. the presiding officer: without objection, it is so ordered. mr. kerry: and i further ask unanimous consent that time in a quorum call be divided equally between both sides and with the granting of that request, i would ask for the quorum call to be called.
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the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. webb: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. webb: mr. president, i'd like to speak about amendment number 3342, which i have introduced with respect to the legislation in question. there has been some confusion, i believe, among my colleagues about what exactly is contained in this amendment which i introduced with senator boxer as an individual stand-alone bill previously and introduced in similar format here on this piece of legislation. i would like to emphasize to my colleagues here that this is a carefully drafted, one-shot
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amendment designed to give the american taxpayers a place on the upside of the recovery of the financial system that they, quite frankly, enabled. this amendment would provide a onetime 50% tax on bonuses that are above $400,000 of the -- of any initial bonus that is paid to executives of financial institutions that received a minimum of $5 billion in the tarp program. and it is only for income that was generated through work in 2009 and compensated in 2010. in other words, this is a one-shot matter of fairness to balance out the rewards that these financial institutions received which were enabled by
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the contributions of the american taxpayer in the tarp program. we have had estimates that this amendment will recover for our economic system somewhere between $3.5 billion and $10 billion. i'd like to, again, to emphasize that the american taxpayers did not create this economic crisis. they were required to bail out those people who did create it, and they deserve to share in the upside, in the rewards that they themselves enabled. paul krugman, who is a nobel prize-winning economist, wrote in july of 2008 about his concern at the very inception of this economic crisis that we were moving toward a tendency in this country to socialize risk and to individualize reward.
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in other words, whenever we create a situation where there is an economic challenge, the american taxpayers at large were expected to absorb the risk. but then when the reward comes in, only the executives, the people who were managing the financial system were able to actually get the rewards. this particular reward in this one-shot tax proposal has come about largely as the result of government intervention as the result of working people in this country having to put their money forward in order to bail out a financial system that had gone wrong. and as a result, i just believe as a matter of equity the reward should be shared with the taxpayers who made it possible. for those of us who had to vote on the tarp program on october 1 of 2008, i think it was a very
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difficult vote and it was a very defining moment here in the senate. and we need to remind ourselves of what was going on at that point. we were called on a mass conference call here in the united states senate by the secretary of treasury and chairman bernanke telling us that if we did not move $700 billion forward without a hearing, in an emergency basis, that the world's economic systems were going to go into cataclysmic free fall. i, like a lot of people, struggled with that vote. i talked to as many people as i could across the philosophical spectrum. i laid down a number of principles. once, we should look at executive compensation. another we should look at reworking the financial sector which chairman baucus has taken the lead. a another is we include the
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american taxpayer on the upside of recovery. in other words, if the taxpayers were going to have to put money in when these troubled assets or toxic assets -- whichever term people would like to use -- couldn't find a value and were clogging up our economic system and clogging up our liquidity, that once that situation was cleared and a value was placed on these amounts and the economy started to recover, that a portion of that benefit should go to the taxpayers who had to put that money out. there's been some talk about how, with these companies -- and we're only talking about 13 companies got $5 billion or more, that with these companies tarp money has been paid back. and in some cases a good bit of this money has been paid back. but i'd like to make two points here. first is any moneys that were paid back were received at the earliest in midyear last year, 2009. meaning that taxpayer assistance to these companies was very much
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in effect. and quite frankly, among the 13 companies included in our amendment, most of the money has not been paid back. i've had some questions here on the floor about how -- whether this amendment we're offering discriminates against new york. well, quite frankly, two of the largest companies with respect to bailout commitments are based in d.c. and in my own state of virginia. this is -- got nothing to do with regional disagreements or class envy of any sort. it's just a matter of how we ought to deal fairly with the way that our taxpayers are working -- taxpayers or working people had to step forward. the second point that would be made in terms of the tarp money being paid back is that the extent of our government's obligation to these bailout companies is astronomical. it's beyond the $700 billion we're talking about. this goes to paul krugman's
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point which he has made consistently since 2008 about continual little socializing risk that is enabling these rewards and not giving a benefit to the people who, that largely took the risk. the billions of dollars in bonuses that are being paid out are a direct result not only of a tarp bailout but also generous federal reserve policies over the last year. we've seen zero, near zero interest rates, a discount window and we've had toxic assets bought by taxpayers. at the same time these firms were able to borrow cheaply, to lend at a higher rate, charge fees and to leverage their bets into fueler financial transaction -- into purely financial transactions. if you examine a quarterly report to the congress, they indicate the true potential amount of support the federal reserve was providing these programs was in the neighborhood of $6.8 trillion.
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so, these risk takers, these people who were managing at the top level in these companies did so at a time that they had enormous backup from the american taxpayer. edward cuomo, attorney general of new york, wrote a letter in january of this year to tarp recipients. and in this letter, he made a couple of very important points that go to the intent of our legislation here. he first said that -- i'm going to quote from beginning and the end, and i ask unanimous consent that the entire letter be included in the record at the end of my statement. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. webb: he states in here the new york attorney general conducted an inquiry into various aspects of executive compensation at many of our nation's largest financial institutions, including a review of compensation practices at the original -- of the original 2008
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tarp recipient banks. he makes, i think, a very valid point at the end of his letter when he said -- in this particular letter i'm reading, he's writing to a company that had paid back the initial tarp money. he says "when you receive tarp funding, your firm took on a new responsibility to taxpayers. while your firm has now paid the money back" -- and again most of the money has not been paid back -- "it's not clear your firm would have been in the same position now had you not received that tarp money." we've all struggled with this issue. there have been many different approaches on this. in fact, chairman baucus has been out front on this issue in a number of different ways. and i have in front of me here the compensation fairness act of 2009, which chairman baucus introduced last march, which was
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one way to attempt to address this issue of windfall profits, bonuses. this legislation was sponsored by senator grassley. it was sponsored by senator schumer, by senator menendez and others. and our bill, i believe, is much narrower than this bill. this bill would tax bonuses of more than $50,000. our bill taxes bonuses of more than $400,000. and this bill would have taxed institutions that received more than $1 million. ours requires $5 billion. this bill was retroactive and recurring in terms of the taxes. ours is one shot, just on this 2009 amount of money that came in as a result -- or the benefits that came in as a result of our taxpayers stepping forward and putting $700 billion into the tarp program.
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senator brown of ohio has introduced legislation that would put a windfall profits tax on any bonus higher than $25,000. our amendment was inspired and designed based on a couple of previous writings and pieces of legislation, the first being the baucus legislation was a starting point for it. the other was, i think, a very powerful article written in "the financial times," one of the most conservative economic newspapers in the world, last november where martin wolf pointed out -- and i'm going to read he can serpts from this article. he said "windfall taxes are a ghastly idea. now why do i find the idea of a windfall tax on banks so appealing? this time it really looks different. first, all the institutions
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making exceptional profits do so because they are beneficiaries of unlimited state insurance for themselves and their counterparts. second, the profrts being made today -- profits being made today are the fruit of money provided by the central bank and arm of the state. third, the case for generous subventions is to restore the financial system and sow the economy to health. fourth, ordinary people can accept that risk takers receive huge rewards, but such rewards for those who have been rescued by the state and bear substantial responsibility for the prices are surely intolerable. fifth, windfall support should be matched by windfall taxes. his proposal, which inspired the specifics of our amendment, was that there could be a one off windfall on bonuses, a onetime
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windfall on bonuses to equal the playing field out in terms of this unique situation that our country found ourselves in. i would just like to say to my fellow members and to other people who are doing the hard work of keeping our economy strong, i respect what it takes to take a risk and get a reward. i -- i respect the entrepreneurship that has strengthened our country throughout its history. but we also need to remember, the working people in this country strongly and rightly believe that they have borne the brunt of this economic crisis and they just as strongly and rightly believe that they are becoming the last to be rewarded as we begin to recover from it. our taxpayers, our working people rescued a financial system that was on the verge of
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collapse because of massive acts of bad judgment by the very companies that are now reaping huge bonuses from the government's intervention. it's not too much to ask those who have been fully compensated and who have received in excess of $400,000 bonus on top of their compensation, that they pay a one-time tax and share that excess on top of their $400,000 bonus in order to help make their rescuers a little more secure. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. mr. baucus: before you rule on that, i ask consent that all quorum calls prior to the vote at 2:30 be charged equally to both sides. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the
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senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: i'd ask the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, it is so od. od -- it is so ordered. mr. coburn: thank you. i was going to spend a couple minutes talking about an amendment i have, number 3308, which is already pending, but i think it's first important to note last year we borrowed $4 billion a day in this count country. 43 cents out of every dollar that the country spent at the federal level was borrowed. now, what does that mean? what that means is that over the next ten years, we're going to be paying $4.5 trillion in interest on the additional $9.8 trillion that we're projected to spend that we don't have. and it was less than three weeks ago that this body passed a
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statute, and here's what the statute said. it said if you don't have the money, then you had to cut something if you were going to spend new money. and as of last night, in the three weeks since we passed that bill, this body has said, that doesn't count, turnout, we're going to spend $-- time-out, we're going to spend $120 billion over the next ten years, but we're not going to pay for it. and that's why when that bill came through to tell america -- america that we were finally going to get some fiscal discipline, we, as a minority, voted against it, because we knew it wasn't true. as a matter of fact, one of our newer members wanted to vote for it, as i had in the past when i first got here because i believed what it meant was real. and the fact is is the paygo rules are a ruse.
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paygo really means american people, you pay and we'll go spend it, and even more than that, what you don't pay we'll go spend anyhow and we'll charge it to your children and your grandchildren. so what this amendment that i am proposing be a part of this tax extenders plan would require three things. it would require the secretary of the senate to post on the website the following three things. the total amount of spending, both discretionary and mandatory, passed by the senate that has not been paid for. we have this big hullabaloo saying we're going to pay for it and then as soon as the hard choices come of getting rid of something that's lower priority, we won't do it. we just charge it on the credit card. so this amendment would require us to post on our website all of the spending that we're doing
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that wasn't paid for. in other words, we're not going to tell america one thing and do another without at least them being transparent in knowing that we're complicit in not following the only law that we passed that said you have to do this. the second thing it would require is the total amount of spending authorized in new legislation as scored by the c.b.o., because what happens up here routinely and what i have been rejected on on the last five and a half years is that if you want to start a new program that is well intended to help people, one of the things we ought to do is get rid of the ones that aren't helping people, the ones that aren't efficient, the ones that are a lower priority. in other words, we ought to have to do what every american family has been doing for the last two or three years. as we have gone through this economic con strict section -- constriction, they make hard choices, they put priorities on things. the fact that we're going to
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have $120 billion inside of three weeks that we refuse to prioritize. we're just going to spend another $120 billion. and then finally, the third component of what i'm asking for in this amendment is for us to put on the senate website any new government programs that we create. what are the new programs that we create? what that is is transparency. so what this amendment -- it's not a gimmick. it's not try to make people look bad. it is to try to make sure that the american people know what we're doing and can see what we're doing. it is also to make sure the american people know that we say one thing and then do another. if, in fact, it's available to the american people that the senate has passed $120 billion worth of unpaid for programs that we, in fact, directly charge to the next two generations, after we have passed a paygo rule saying we will never do this, it's about
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credibility. it's about character, it's about honor. it's about fessing up if you don't have the courage to make hard choices. so it's very simple. some of my colleagues think it's a gimmick. it's about being transparent with the truth about our lack of courage to make hard choices. and ultimately, what's going to happen is the world financial system is going to force us into making hard choices. we all know that's coming. we're going to have a a $1.6 trillion deficit this year. we're going to be at 45 cents out of every dollar that we spend we're going to borrow against our children. when -- when does it happen? when do we start making the difficult choices that we were sent up here to make? so my hope is that my colleagues will support this amendment, that we will, in fact, be honest and transparent with the american people about what we're doing, how we're doing it, and how we don't even follow our own
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rules. there is a senate rule on paygo, budget rule, but now there is a statute, and what we have done is we have just conveniently voted in the senate that tout, we're -- that time-out, we're not going to honor the statute, we're not going to make the hard choices, and we're going to go on and spend the future of the generations that follow us. with that, i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin is recognized. mr. kohl: thank you, mr. president. it is my pleasure today to rise in support of william connally's nomination to be district court judge for the western district of wisconsin. if confirmed, mr. connally will replace judge barbara crabb who has taken senior status after more than 30 years of distinguished service on the court. bill connally will make an outstanding addition to the federal bench. he rose up from humble roots in the small town of rice lake, wisconsin, to graduate with distinction from the university
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of wisconsin. he went on to the law school at u.w., graduating cum laude and order of the coithe. following law school, he clerked in the seventh circuit court of appeals for judge fairchild. bill conley's career has prepared him well to be a federal judge. he has practiced law for 25 years at the venerable madison firm of foley and lardner. throughout his career, he has earned a reputation as a skillful lawyer and top-notch litigator. he has represented a variety of national and international companies before state and federal courts and has served as a mediator and arbitrator to help parties resolve their disputes outside of court. one of bill conley's greatest strengths is his frequent representation of clients before the court to which he has been nominated. from this experience, he has
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gained a keen understanding of the court, as well as the fairness and impartiality that the administration of justice requires. while managing a busy legal practice, bill conley has remained committed to using his legal talent for the benefit of the local community. he has devoted hundreds of hours to pro bono legal work, representing refugees, indigent defendants, and others who would otherwise be not able to afford legal representation. he has also been active with the remington center for criminal justice at the university of wisconsin, as well as the wisconsin equal justice fund. despite the many hours that his work demands, bill conley makes time for his family and is a devoted husband, father, brother, and son. in sum, he possesses all of the best qualities that we look for in a judge -- legal acumen, diligence, humility and
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integrity. bill conley's nomination was the result of the work of the nonpartisan wisconsin federal judicial nominating commission. for the past 30 years, senators from wisconsin, regardless of party, have used a commission to select candidates for the federal bench. this process ensures that a judge's qualifications are always our primary consideration and that politics are kept to a minimum. bill conley's nomination proves once again that the process we use in wisconsin ensures excellence, so it is no surprise that the american bar association found him to be, quote -- unanimously well qualified "and that the judiciary committee approved of his nomination without dissent. when considering nominees for lifetime appointments to the federal courts, we must satisfy ourselves that these nominees have substantial legal experience, are learned in the
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law, have the respect of their peers, and most important of all will be fair-minded and do justice without predisposition or bias. william conley's experience and qualifications convinces me that he well exceeds these requirements. i'm confident that bill conley will be a federal judge we can be proud of and that he will serve the people of wisconsin well. thank you very much. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming is recognized. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: quorum call, senator. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be
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dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, it is so ordered. mr. barrasso: i ask i be allowed to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today because the senate committee of environment and public works will soon be meeting to discuss the nomination of mr. arthur elkins to be the inspector general at the environmental protection agency. i support mr. elkins moving out of committee and today he has truthfully answered all of the questions that i have posed to him. before the full senate votes, i do have some additional questions based on a report that i am releasing today. mr. president, as ranking member of the subcommittee on oversight and the senate environment and public works committee, i care a great deal about ensuring oversight over the agencies within our jurisdiction, the most important of which is the e.p.a. over the last few months, the minority on the subcommittee have compiled a report. the report is entitled "the
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status of oversight: a year of lost oversight." this report details the severe lack of oversight by the majority on the committee and the administration. when the majority created the subcommittee on oversight, it was stated that they planned -- and i quote -- "to use the subcommittee to explore ways to restore scientific integrity at the e.p.a. and other federal agencies focused on the environment and to strengthen environmental protections by once again making the regulatory process more transparent." mr. president, i agree. one year later, as my report details, there have only been two subcommittee hearings. as the report concludes, "the results of this is that the majority has let a year go by where they have failed to pursue their stated goals." over the last year, mr. president, my colleagues and i have requested a series of investigations and hearings into key matters related to whistle-blowers being silenced,
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data being manipulated and shadow czars holding meetings where nothing is put into writing to avoid freedom of information act requests. we have asked for these hearings and investigations because we believe that the public needs to have trust in their government. at the beginning of this administration, the environmental protection agency administrator lisa jackson herself stated unequivocally -- quote -- "the success of our environmental efforts depends on earning and maintaining the trust of the public we serve." as this report demonstrates, this administration and the majority have shown little interest in pursuing these matters. let me read to you the findings and recommendations of the report n.2009, the senate -- in 2009, the senate majority chose not to conduct oversight over the relevant agencies within the executive branch. the lack of oversight overt activities of the federal
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agencies weakens the system of checks and balances and invites the potential for larger abuses. action must be taken to investigate oversight issues from the last year and further coordination within the committee regarding the oversight jurisdiction and responsibility is needed. mr. president, i believe that finally having a nominee, finally receiving a nominee for inspector general at e.p.a. gives the public another opportunity to get to the truth about the issues raised in this report. in his answers to my questions to date, mr. elkins has signaled that he is absolutely willing to chart a new course from where this administration and the majority have taken us. when i asked, "do you believe it is the responsibility of the e.p.a. inspector general to investigate instances where whistle-blowers are silenced by their superiors at the agency?" he said yes. when i asked "will you pursue those instances?"
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he said yes. when i asked "do you believe it is the responsibility of the e.p.a. inspector general to investigate and report instances where scientific procedures at e.p.a. are circumvented?" he said yes. when i asked "will you investigate instances where agency employees and smeared -- are smeared publicly in the press by higher ups in an agency or in the administration simply for providing their best advice and counsel?" he said yes. all of these things are not hypotheticals, mr. president. they all occurred over the last year. my colleagues and i in the minority have asked for investigations into each these instances by the majority and the administration. the response we have received each time has been a resounding "no." so, mr. president, if the administration and the majority refuse to provide proper oversight, then someone else has to. that is why i plan to share this oversight report with mr. elkins, the nominee to be
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inspector general at the e.p.a. so before a floor vote, i will seek confirmation that he will give the matter, the matters that i raise in this report due consideration. i'm confident based on his response so far that he will answer in 8 firmive. if -- affirmative. if so, we will have a sea change at the e.p.a. that will restore the public's confidence in that agency. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in the relation to amendment 3382 offered by the senator from michigan, senator stabenow. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i'm pleased to speak on behalf of this amendment which is cosponsored
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by schumer, snowe, enzi and collins. this focuses on companies that continue to face significant challenges in raising capital for new investments. it would allow companies who don't benefit from other incentives to utilize existing a.m.t. credits based on new investments that they make in this year for equipment and so on to create jobs. it encourages companies to invest and to -- would allow companies to be able to receive badly needed source of capital. this is very, very important, i think, for companies that will be in a position where they're not making a profit but are continuing to invest to maintain their workforce or grow their workforce and need to be able to have a source of capital. this is dollars that they would be receiving at some point anyway. because they are -- when they
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become profitable, they're able to use the credits. we're going to allow them to use a portion, just 10% of those credits, to be able to invest in equipment and facilitys to create jobs here. i want to thank many, many businesses and the u.s. chambers, national association of manufacturers, the association of manufacturing technology, the equipment manufacturers, motor and equipment manufacturers, and many, many, many businesses that are in america working to make things, to bring back jobs. this is on behalf of all of them and i would ask colleagues for their support. the presiding officer: who yields time in op desision -- in opposition. the presiding officer: who yields time in opposition? is there further debate?
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if not, the question is on the amendment. all in favor say aye. those opposed, nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have. it the -- the amendment's adopted. under the previous order there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to the -- a vote on the relations to amendment 3391 offered by the senator from massachusetts, senator brown. mr. baucus: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana is recognized. mr. baucus: suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts is recognized. for one minute. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. brown: providing immediate across-the-board tax relief to working families is not complicated economic policy. it's simple and makes economic sense. and under my plan almost 130 million workers will receive immediate and direct tax relief. if we took the estimated $80 billion in unobligated stimulus accounts today, money that is sitting there unused in what i consider a stimulus slush fund and gave it back to the american people, our workers could see their payroll taxes lower by nearly $100 per month saving them more than $500 over a six-month period and working couples could receive a tax cut
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more than $1,000. this has been done before, j.f.k. and ronald reagan called for across-the-board tax cuts to stimulate the economy and we can do that now. mr. president, i moved last week for a bipartisan effort to get washington working again. i reached out across party lines and made a sincere effort to stop business as usual to get the -- the jobs done that the american people are demanding. i would hope that that -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. brown: thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: mr. president, as a former president used to say, there they go again. there they go again trying to cut back the recovery act. there they go again trying to scale back what c.b.o. says creates jobs. they tried it with the bunning amendment tuesday. they tried it with the thune amendment yesterday. they've tried it with the bunning amendment yesterday. they tried it with the burr amendment yetd.
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each time the senate rejected their attempt to raid the recovery act. the nonpartisan congressional budget office said that the recovery act would create one million to three million -- between one million and three million full-time equivalent jobs. that's real job creation. now is not the time to scale back job creation. and i urge that we don't adopt this amendment. i raise a point of order against section 103d of the pending amendment pursuant to section 403 of s. con. res. 13, the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2010. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. brown: i move to waive the applicable section to the budget act with respect to my amendment and ask for the call of the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. the clerk will call the roll.
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vote: vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, on this vote, the yeas are 44, the nays are 56. three-finals of the senators duly chosen and sworn shall the senate is not in order voted in the affirmative, the motion is not agreed to. the point of order is sustained. the emergency designation is removed. mr. baucus: mr. president? the presiding officer: is not sphrr montana. mr. baucus: mr. president, the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: order, please. the senator from montana has the floor. mr. baucus: mr. president, i raise a point of order that the pending brown amendment violates section 20169 senate concurrent resolution 21, the concurrent resolution on the burden for
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fiscal year 2008. the presiding officer: the point of order is sustained. the amendment falls. mr. baucus: mr. president, i believe we're next on the burr amendment. the presiding officer: yes, there are now two minutes evenly divided for a vote with respect to the burr amendment. mr. burr: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. please, everyone, please hear him out. mr. burr: mr. president, i'll be very brief and we can get on with this. my amendment is very simple. in the spirit of trying to restart this economy, get americans back to work, what this amendment does is it creates a ten-day tax holiday. it's voluntary for any state that wants to participate. it would start 30 days after enactment, on the first friday, so that we incorporated two weekends of sales. mr. president, we did this in
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2001 to handle the economic downturn. states do it every year for back-to-school time. it's proven to generate retail activity. right now we need a shock and awe to this economy if we want to get americans back to work. i urge my colleagues to support that amendment. i yield the floor. mr. baucus: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator montana. mr. baucus: as yogi berra once said, it's deja vu all over again. here we are. we've had this amendment -- not this precise amendment but many similar to it many times, taking recovery funds out, just to remind my colleagues that c.b.o. says that's 1 million to 3 million jobs that the stimulus bill that is provided. there's more yet in the recovery package -- dwroat continue to create more jobs. now is not the time to cut back on a proven job creator and i, therefore, urge we do not adopt this amendment. mr. president, i raise a point of order that the pending burr amendment violates section 201
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of senate concurrent resolution 21, the current resolution under the budget for fiscal year 2508. bur mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. burr: pursuant to section 4-g-3 of the statutory pay-as-you-go act of 2003, i move to waive the applicable sections for the purpose of my amendment and ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: any senator wishing to change his or her vote or to vote? okay. well, then, on this vote the yeas are 22, the nays are 78. three-fifths of the senate duly chosen and sworn not having voted in the affirmative, the motion is not agreed to..
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the presiding officer: point of order is sustained the amendment falls. there are now two minutes evenly divided on the sessions amendment. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president, this amendment is one of those opportunities where we get to walk the walk. there is an awful lot of talk about how we have to do something about spending. there is a lot of misinformation out there about this amendment. first of all, it exempts emergencies. it exempts -- the presiding officer: please let's have order so we can hear the senator from missouri. mrs. mccaskill: it exempts mandatory spending like u.i. and
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cobra. it exempts our wars. it exempts emergency spending. it is less aggressive than the president's spending freeze that he has laid out for next year. it doesn't apply until the next fiscal year. this is the moment that we can walk the walk instead of just talking the talk and show the american people that we get it. 2% is not unreasonable in terms of increases every year when we look at the pile of debt that we've got to deal with in the coming decades. i urge the adoption of the amendment. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. mr. inouye: mr. president, this amendment does one thing and does another. it says it will help control federal spending, but it leaves mandatory spending off the
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table. when that is the area of rampant growth over the past decade. it also circumvents the deficit-reduction commission which was just created a few days ago, to look at both spending and revenues by prematurely cutting discretionary spending. it would require appropriations committee to cut more than $100 billion from national defense. so i urge my colleagues to once again reject this amendment. mr. president, the pending amendment deals with matters within the budget committee's jurisdiction. i raise a point of order that the pending amendment violates section 306 of the congressional
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budget act of 1974. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mrs. mccaskill: pursuant to section 904 of the congressional budget act of the 1974, i move to waive all applicable sections of those acts for purposes of my amendment and ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is therthe erk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: does anyone wish to vote or change his or her vote? if not, on this vote, the yeas are 59, the nays are 41. three-fifths of the senate duly chosen and sworn not having voted in the affirmative, the motion is not agreed to. the point of order is sustained. the amendment falls. [inaudible] without objection.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will go into executive session to consider the following nomination. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, william m. conley of wisconsin to be united states district judge for the western district of wisconsin. mr. reid: yield back the time. ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is the a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: anyone wishing to vote or to change their vote? hearing none, the yeas are 99, the nays are zero. the nomination is confirmed. a motion to reconsider is considered made and laid on the table. the president shall be notified of the senate's action and the senate returns to legislative session. the senator from new hampshire. mr. gregg: i understand that the senator from illinois is planning to speak. i'd like to speak after he completes his remarks. i ask unanimous consent that he be recognized and then i be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from illinois. mr. burris: after i would like to speak, i ask unanimous consent that the senator from delaware be able to speak for
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his period of time. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. burris: after the senator from new hampshire. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. burris: madam president, i rise to speak on house bill 4213. one amendment has already been dropped. i do plan to put in a second amendment. and, madam president, this amendment is dealing with the recovery act funds and during my three terms as state comptroller of illinois, i worked very hard to maintain accountability of the money that we spent from our state. and, madam president, i have been contacted by my state officials, the various auditors, controllers an treasurers to say that the stimulus money coming into the states are coming in
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and they have no funds to do the transparency and accountability. i put an amendment on to this bill to say that we should. and i offered amendment 3388, which addresses currently underfunding costs of tracking and reporting the stimulus money. this measure would set aside up to one half of 1% of all existing stimulus funds and allow states and local governments to use this administrative expense reserve to distribute and track this money as it is received and spent. it will allow the american people to hold their representatives accountable and help ensure that every dollar is targeted effectively and spent wisely without waste, fraud, or abuse. and passing this amendment will restore oversight to this process and will keep america on the road to economic recovery without incurring a dime of new spending.
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so, madam president, i -- in addition to restoring accountability, i believe we need to take an active role -- as my second amendment would be, it would deal with small business. i believe we should take an active role in supporting and minority businesses because main street will be the engine of the american economic recovery. and there will -- whether the jobs will be created and that's where the rub meert -- rubber ms the road. that's why i'm proud to introduce an amendment that will require the transportation security administration, the t.s.a., to award contracts to small businesses and disadvantaged businesses wherever and whenever possible. this amendment would ensure compliance with existing standards of government contracts and sub contracts and would keep dollars flowing into real communities rather than to
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the corporate treasuries. my strengthening standards and goals for t.s.a. we can target federal spending to the capable worker who has always been at the center of the american economic prosperity. so, madam president, we're also saying that we need these two amendments that will strengthen and improve upon the key provisions of our job bill as well. so i ask my friends in this chamber to join me in renewing our commitment to transparency, honesty, and accountability. and i ask them to stand up for small businesses and minority sub-contractors so that we can make sure that main street has a major share of our ongoing economic recovery. so the issue is that the -- the amendment to house bill 4213 will be amended 3388 and also
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the other amendment i'm getting ready to drop which will deal with the small and minority businesses. and with that, madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mr. gregg: madam president, i want to rise to go over for the sake of the order and also for those people who may be listening and may be reading this -- this dialogue. where we stand relative to the health care debate is i think it's important for people to understand what's happened. there's been a lot of talk about a lot of different things with reconciliation taking a front -- the term reconciliation taking a front row seat. what's happening here is actually this: the house of representatives is going to have to make a decision whether or not they want to pass the bill that passed near the senate. now, remember the bill that passed here in the senate was a bill that was produced and delivered to the senate on a
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saturday afternoon. -- afternoon for all intents an purposes, the core of the bill, the managers' amendment. no amendments were allowed after that saturday afternoon. and a final vote was taken three days later on christmas eve. it was a bill that expanded the size of government b by $2.5 trillion when fully implemented. it was a bill that cut medicare, reduced medicare by a trillion dollars when fully implemented and it scored it $500 billion in the first 10-year tranche. but $1 trillion when fully implemented. and took those savings from medicare -- from medicare recipients and used them to fund a brand-new entitlement which had nothing to do with medicare. didn't involve the people who received medicare and to expand an already existing entitlement
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called medicaid dramatically. it was a bill that basically said to small employers, we're going to make it so darn expensive for you to keep the insurance that you presently give to your employees that a lot of you are going to decide to throw up your hands an stop insuring your employees and send your employees down to something called an exchange. it was a bill that basically set up a structure that would manage in a micromanage way the delivery of health care in this country from a top-down situation, so, essentially, it put a bureaucrat between you and your doctor. and you and your hospital. it was a bill which was going to create so much new spending and grow the government so much that we would now have, after this bill is fully implemented, the largest government as a percentage of our gross national product than we have ever had at any time where we've not been engaged in a world war. think about that. it's going to take the -- that
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bill takes the size of our government and grows it from its historic level, which is about 20% of g.d.p., up to 26%, 27% of g.d.p. when it's fully implemented. and most of that, all they allegedly paid for, those paid for would never come to fruition, we know that this congress doesn't have the courage to stand up and raise -- granted this wasn't the c.b.o. score, because they had to take -- they had to take the statement that the congress would do something like cut medicare by $1 trillion. most of those pay fors wouldn't come to fruition. therefore, this would fall on the deficit and become debt that our children would have to pay off. and in addition it did nothing, absolutely nothing, about reducing the cost of health care in this country. in fact, again, according to c.b.o., the cost of health care went straight-up under this
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bill. a lot of americans also under this bill would still not be insured, because the estimate was 24 million, i believe, would still have no insurance, even after we spend $2.5 trillion. and so this bill, in my opinion, was -- and is and remains -- a disaster, from a fiscal standpoint because it will so massively expand the size of government and throw those costs onto our children's backs in the form of debt, and from a health care standpoint, because it will undermine, in my opinion, the delivery of health care, but more importantly, it doesn't do anything substantively to bend the out-year health care costs. so now this bill, this giant bill, on health care -- this asteroid headed towards earth -- is sitting in the house of representatives. and they don't have the votes to pass it. why? because the american people have
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spoken. they spoke when they elected scott brown in massachusetts, and they've spoken in polls across this country, and they've spoken in town meetings, and they've spoken in letters to senators and e-mails to senators, and house members. they're upset. they know this is bad policy, and they know we can't afford it and they know we shouldn't do t so there are a lot of house members that are a little queyszy about voting for this. so what have the house leadership and the senate come up with? they've come up with a huge sidecar. it's called reconciliation, it's a littler bill. the purpose is to go around to the different constituencies in the harks a different liberal constituencies in the house and ask them what they need to get their vote for the big bill and then put it in this little bill.
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it's a purchasing process. it's a going out and buying votes process, done behind closed doors, as this bill was. this bill was designed in a back room. the big bill was designed in the back room. this is ththey're negotiating wl those folks, what do i need to get your vote to get you to vote for this big bill, which nobody waptses? and somebody says, well, you got to spend more money. so people need something that spends more money. or you've got to raise taxes on is so thet nut a tax increase. or you've got change the benefit structure here. so they change the benefit structure. they put all of these little changes, which are fairly significant but are nothing compared to the bigger bill in this smaller bill called reconciliation. why did they choose that bill called reconciliation to do this? 0 or why will they? because under the senate rules,
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anything that comes across the floor of the senate requires 60 votes to pass. it's called the filibuster. that's the way the senate was structured. the senate was structured to be the place where bills which rushed through the house because they don't have any rules that limit -- they don't have a -- they do a lot of rules that limit debate and allow people to pass bills quickly, yo quickly,y don't have any rule called the filibuster which allows people to slow things down. bills can rush through the house and they come over here -- sometimes pretty bad ideas -- and the founding fathers realized when they structured this they wanted checks and balances. they didn't want things rushed through. they saw the parliamentary system. they knew it didn't work. so they set up the place, as george washington described it where you take the hot coffee out of the cup and you pour it into the saucer and you let it cool a little bit and you let people look at it and make sure it's done correctly. that hthat's why
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we have the 60-vote situation over histor over here to requirt things get full consideration. unfortunately, it was totally ignored -- the 60 votes weren't because the 60 votes were used to override thoughtful consideration. but when the big bill bassed, it wa--but when the big bill was passed, it was done in way that allowed the senate to amend it. but now they know they can't go that route again because there's no longer 60 votes on the other side of the aisle. with the election of senator brown, who was elected in large part because of people's outrage over what happened when they basically tried to jam the senate or did jam the senate procedure and did not allow amendments, did not allow debate on the biggest piece of social policy and fiscal legislation in my history of the congress -- the big bill -- when they jammed this, jammed that thing through here on christmas eve, people
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got outraged and senator brown -- senator scott brown made that point. so now there's no longer 60 votes on the other side of the aisle. so they ant can't use that ramrod approach. so they've decided to go back to an arcane senate procedure called reconciliation. under reconciliation, that's the only bill around here, the budget and reconciliation, that has the right to pass with 51 votes and a time limit on debate and basically a time limit on debatable amendments. although not on amendments generally. so this reconciliation is a hybrid vehicle here in the senate. and what really is it? well, reconciliation was structured so that when a budget passed the senate, there would be a way for the budget compete to say to the committees that were supposed to adjust spending or adjust taxes in a way to meet the budget that they had to do it. so if your budget was coming o
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out, oh, $10 billion, $20 billion, $30 billion over what it was supposed to be, reconciliation would say, change the law to bring it back to where it's supposed to be. and it's been used around here on numerous occasions, i think 19 times reconciliation has been used since the budget act instituted reconciliation in 1976. but it has always been used for the purposes of adjusting issues which either (a) were bipartisan or (b) were pretty much purely issues of adjusting numbers, numbers on the tax side, numbers on the spending side. and so of the 19 times that reskill yags has been used -- reconciliation has been used, every time except two times, reconciliation has been a bipartisan bill. twice it was not bipartisan. twice it was run through here on
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a partisan vote, once on the tax increases that president clinton passed, and once on a reconciliation bill dealing with adjusting spending -- i believe it was in 1985. otherwise it's always been a bipartisan vote. so 89% of the time it's been bipartisan. and it has always been, when it has been partisan, used for making these numbers adjustments, not for the purposes of creating massive new policy that affects every american in very personal ways, in the way they deal with their doctors and their hospitals and their health care treatment. it was never conceived as a concept where the real legislation involving substantive issues of policy would be done. tax rate adjustments have occurred under it. absolutely.
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but when you move tax rates from 39% to 35% as the bush tax cut did, or tax capital gains from 225% to 15%, that's not a complx issue. that's just, you know, taxes are either going to go down or they're going to go up t takes about 100 pages of actual legislative language. everybody knows the issue. it's an up-or-down vote. pretty clear. and in fact in those instances there were opposing positions presented and in those issues, there was actually more than one -- people of both parties voted for them. these are not -- that's not like passing an entire rewrite of the health care system of america. you know, the health care system is 17% of our economy. one of the most complex issues we have to deal with.
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you pull a string over here and a string 10,000 miles away is affected. that's -- it's just a matrix of exceptionally complicated, interrelated issues with all sorts of policy language that's necessary. and so reconciliation was never conceived of and its purpose was never to take on big policy like that. big policy is supposed to be taken on on the floor of the senate, in an open procedure, where there's debate and there's amendments. and the amendments are debatable. so reconciliation is certainly not the appropriate vehicle to use here, but i think the point i'm trying to make is that reconciliation isn't the real game here. i mean, after the house of representatives -- after they've gone around with this reconciliation bill and they've bought up the votes they need and said to these people, well, we'll just fix that in reskill jags if you'll just vote for the big bill $after that's happened and the big bill is passed this
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$2.5 trillion monstrosity in spending and government dominance of the health care sector, after that's passed, the game is over. i mean, that's the law. i mean, i don't think there'll be much incentive at all for the white house or my colleagues on the other side of the aisle too take up reconciliation. there certainly won't be any energy to need to pass it because the big bill which america basically rejects, every poll in america says it's got a maximum of about 25% approval that have bill and somewhere around 60% to 70% disapproval, strongly or barely strongly, that bill will become law. and basically what we will have dondone or what will have occurd is we will have created a government that's so large and so burdensome that it is very
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unlikely that it country will be able to pay for it. and as we move into the out years, our children are going to get these bills. and in order to pay those bills, they're either going to have to have a massive event of inflation to pay for them or massive tax increase, and neither one of those events, undermine the quality of life or the standard of living of the next generation. you're going to get a health care system which has become basically a ward of the government, for all intents of purposes, with a bureaucracy that is very dominant and makes it very difficult for citizens to have the choices they need in order to make -- develop a health care delivery system that is tailored to their needs. and a lot of small businesses will just give up on the idea of supplying health care.
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and we also know, of course, that the health care prices will not come down. by will continue to go up. so this is a really dangerous time, i think. it's a time when the house of representatives has to take a hard look at what actions it's going to take, obviously, and i am a sure they will. but they have to recognize that voting for that big bill and hoping that the senate will bail them out with the little bill, well, i'd take a second look at that, because, first, it will be hard to run a reconciliation bill across this floor and have it end up the way it started out because of all the point of order out that will be available against t but second-degreely, i'm not sure there will be all that -- but secondly, i'm not sure there will be all that much energy to do it. there's not going to be a whole
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lot of energy to do much else. i think it's important to understand that as much as reconciliation is an interesting and entertaining topic for discussion around here as to whether it is appropriate and whether it's -- which i don't think it is under this type of scene near naturscenario, and we reconciliation bill will actually survive the challenges here on this floor from points of order, that's an interesting issue, too, that's not the question. the question is, is reconciliation even relevant once the big bill passes and i think it's probably not. and so if i were a house member depending on reconciliation, looking to that bill as the way that i'm going to justify voting for this bigger bill which is such a disaster, i'd think twice. madam president, i yield the
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. kaufman: madam president, it's been just history of a year since i took office and since president obama was sworn in and i think it is a good time and appropriate to reflect on just how far we've come. a year ago the presiding officer and i came into office in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the great depression. we had been spiraling deeper and deeper into recession for over a year. almost 3/4 of a million jobs were lost in the month of january 2009 alone. our credit markets were frozen, major he had physicals of our economic landscape had collapsed or were tottering on the brink of lehman brothers to general motors. alarms were still ringing, emergency policies were thrown into the breach, things were bad, and there was no way to
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know how much worse they were going to get. we were on the precipice. and we could have fallen into the abyss if not for the extraordinary actions that we took. those actions saved us from another full-blown depression. we are still not out of the woods, of course. and although we have had some good news recently, too many families, too many communities have been hit hard by job losses and falling home values. but, we are nevertheless beginning to see evidence that we're finally turning the corner as a nation. while things are still not good, they're no longer getting worse. in some areas we've actually seen real improvement. i want to share with my colleagues some of that evidence. here, i have a chart showing the dow jones industrial average since last october. it's october 2008. we all know it's not always the best indicator of economic
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health. but since the downturn was precipitated by turmoil in our financial markets, i'll start with this. as you can see, madam president, the market bottomed out just weeks after the recovery act was enacted, and it's been climbing ever since. the chart clearly shows that we stop the free fall that, we stabilize the market and that we are allowing it to grow again. here's another chart showing the purchasing managers index. this is a survey of purchasing managers that report whether business conditions are better than, the same as or worse than the previous month. a score of 50 means no change. so anything over that should mean the economy is expanding, and anything below indicates the economy is shrinking. in this chart, it is clear that business confidence plummeted in the fall of 2008. only four times in the postwar
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period has this index fallen so low, and never in the last quarter century. we can see here that it was not until march of last year, when you look at the chart, right after the recovery act took effect, the manufacturing confidence began to return. with other data, we know this occurs, businesses began rebuilding inventories, confident they had weathered the crash crisis of the winter. this next chart shows our g.d.p. growth, gross domestic product of the last three years. from the beginning of 2007 through the end of last year. the last date for which we have good day -- day tafplt i've added a smoothing line to show the trajectory of this economy has been taking. in 2008, the bottom fell out. it wasn't until last spring that we began to restore order.
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i will not pretend the growth is good enough for me. without jobs, it isn't. but it is clearly better than what was happening 12 months ago. my last two charts, madam president, which address jobs tell the most important tale. now, we know from past experience that job growth lags behind economic recovery, and this chart here shows how long that took in previous postwar recessions. in every single postwar recession, jobs have lagged the economic recovery, whether it's one month, in july 1980 or 22 months in november 2001, and everything in between. there's a reason for this. businesses need to use up their existing capacity and they need to feel confident in the economic climate before they start expanding again. this process can be especially
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painful following a financial cole hrapts where businesses and households are forced to pare down savings and reduce spending. by doing that, they tamp down economic recovery, reduce spending. that's why jobs have been slower to return than anyone would like. also remember, if you're running a company and you just laid people off, that's a very traumatic experience. if you don't want to do that again, the worst thing of all is to start hiring people back and then have to lay them off again. business people, especially ones that care, they don't want to hire people right back until they're sure they can give them a job they can keep. it's important to remember this lag. economists suggest that we may be around eight months in the economic recovery and jobs are coming. we are eight months in the economic recovery, and the jobs are coming. while the record of recent roeufrs is a sobering one -- recoveries is a sobering one, the last chart i have to show is the beginning of our good news.
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with announcements over recent weeks, we have seen that unemployment is stabilized and may even be turning around. we have staunched the bleeding. all of those charts show that things started picking up right after we passed the stimulus bill. that is not the only thing we did. there were extraordinary efforts to stabilize the financial sectors through direct assistance on low-interest rates. but passage of the recovery act marked the beginning of the turnaround. that is indisputable looking at the data. the passage of the recovery act marked the the beginning of the economic turnaround. we cannot be satisfied until we have all our jobs back, until our economy's working for everyone. the one thing we know for sure, without the recovery act, we would be a lot worse off. i want to stress, this will not be a smooth path back to a healthy economy. there will be good days and bad days, good news and bad news. but these indicators show we
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have turned the corner. thanks in no small way to the recovery act money that is still going out. nationally, nearly 2 million jobs have been saved or created by activities funned by the recovery act -- funded by the recovery act. this is not something i'm claiming. moodies, macroeconomic advisors and more are telling the same stories r*eu. but that is -- telling the same story. that is not all the recovery act has done. it has given a hand to millions of americans out of work by expanding unemployment insurance. meanwhile, 95% of working americans benefit from tax relief. let me repeat that. under the recovery act, 95% of all working americans benefited from the tax relief. state and local governments received badly needed fiscal relief that allowed them to maintain essential services, including health coverage for millions of americans. also allowed them to retain
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workers which kept cops on the beat and teachers in the class raofplt we will never know -- classroom. we will never know how bad the economy would have been if we had not acted. the charts i just showed all tell the very same story, of an economic free fall that has been slowed, stopped and reversed. madam president, do any of my colleagues really believe that we would be in a better situation today without the recovery act? the time line is clear, the data is clear. the recovery act is what brought the economy back. the challenge we faced a year ago was a roughly $2 trillion hole in accounting. the consumer spending, fully two-thirds of the whole economy, was in free fall. failing to plug the gap $2 trillion hole would have continued the free fall or, just as badly, condemned us to a lost decade like what japan saw in the 1990's.
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during the 1990's the japanese did not come back with a recovery act and had gross domestic product level for a decade. that's what we would have been condemned with for sure, in my opinion, if we had not gone with the recovery act. let's tell the truth about how we got here. it's absolutely essential that, remember the situation was a year ago when the administration came into office. not to go back and go over things that happened in the past, but to make sure that we don't do it again and to understand what caused this recession, the circumstances we inherited at the end of eight years of the prior administration were the worst we had seen in generations. when the bush administration came to office in 2001, the federal budget was not only balanced, it was in surplus. in surplus to the tune of $236 billion, the largest surplus in half a century. remember that. that was not that long ago. we were actually debating -- this is the truth and you
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remember it when you think about it. get the papers out from ten years ago. we were actually debating how quickly we were going to be free of debt as a country. we were on a path to financial independence, able to save for retirement for the baby-boom generation. able to set something aside for a rainy day. that was just ten years ago. tragically, that intertance was squandered. instead of a surplus of $710 billion projected in 2001 for last fiscal year, 2009, we wound up with a $1.6 trillion deficit. i hear my friends on the other side of the aisle talk about this deficit, this $1.6 trillion deficit. it just didn't develop. it didn't come out of nowhere. it came out of the policies of the last eight years. two major factors account for the bulk of this reversal of fortune. first, with the economic and budget policies of the last administration, which literally gave no thought to paying for its tax cut or spending increases. no thought. listening here on the floor, you
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talk about all we want to do is pay for everything. pay $10 billion for unemployment extension. but we actually passed tax cuts, medicare, other things that were never paid for that were hundreds of billions of dollars. not $10 billion. hundreds of billions of dollars. tax cuts primarily for the wealthy and wars in iraq and afghanistan together accounted for more than $500 billion of the 2009 deficit and $7.1 trillion over the last decade. and none of it was paid for. second, we have the regulatory failures permitted, even encouraged, the financial exodus which brought down our markets. that is not hyperbole. they not only permitted it, they encouraged it. there was a feeling you didn't have to do any kind of regulation. self-regulation. alan greenspan himself said he was dismayed self-regulation didn't work. that financial collapse brought on by no regulation, reducing
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revenues, unemployment caused us to reduce spending, here we are on the floor debating about unemployment insurance, food stamps and other support requirements when in the previous administration, they didn't talk about these issues that cost $7.1 trillion over the next decade. they weren't funded. there was no funding for medicare prescription drugs. there was no funding for the tax cuts. it's true, madam president, that the budget for next year will not be as close to balance as we all would wish, but i believe that is because of the hand we were dealt. the best way to bring the budget back into order over the long run is to grow our economy. grow our economy. this is something everybody in this building believes in. the way to bring it back is grow our kpheufplt our inheritance from the previous administration were tax cuts overwhelmingly tilted to those who are already well off. unfunded new entitlement
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programs and two wars paid for with borrowed money. all of these transformed our country's finances, leading us down the path to where we are, potentially on the brink to fiscal ruin. instead of saving for the future, we were borrowing billions from china, japan and other countries and falling deeper into debt. there is two different kinds of deficits and we've not done a great job in explaining this. there is a deficit you make in good times by profligate spending and tax cuts. that's one kind of deficit. when the economy is going well, you should be building surpluses. however, once you're in the hole, you've got to get out of the hole and that's a different kind of deficit. that's the deficit you need to do in order to get the economy moving again to get growth because growth is the only way you're going to get out of the hole. president bush inherited a balanced budget, a surplus projected at this time to be $5.6 trillion over ten years. he left office having added
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nearly $5 trillion to the national debt. that is a swing of $10 trillion. that means the bush years cost us roughly $30,000 for each and every american. i hear people on the other side talking about the deficit. this was a $10 trillion swing starting just ten years ago and going up two years ago. where's the amnesia? take a look at what happened. what i'm telling you is just the facts. we can argue about policy and everything. but in fact we were in surplus and projected a $5.6 trillion, when president clinton left office, and we ended up with a $5 trillion national debt. those are facts. i hear a lot of things on the floor. senator moynihan from new york used to say everybody's entitled to their opinion but not everybody's entitled to their facts. the facts are $5.6 trillion surplus projected when president bush took office, and we are
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left with a $5 trillion deficit. that adds up to $10 trillion. in fact, it adds up to $10.6 trillion. now, madam president, i think that those of us who supported the recovery act need to own up for our own mistake, and we made a mistake. we have done a lousy job of explaining why the recovery act was needed and how it's working. and i'm saying we're doing a good job explaining about the web sites and how it's working that. we just have not done the macroeconomic explanation of why you cannot have jobs come back until the economy comes back, and you could not have the economy come back without having the recovery act. to start with, i'll say i know it increases the deficit in the short term. that's what i'm saying. i don't like it. but to be honest, that is an unavoidable by-product of where we were. the best long-term solution to our debt problems is not a little frugality that cuts down our growth. it is a robust, healthy, growing
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economy. that is why most economists -- when i say most, i just say the vast majority believe in spite of the short deficit hit on the recovery act, it will bring us closer to fiscal balance over the long term. i would simply remind them that its economic growth, something that they have talked about for years, economic growth alone that will get us out of our present mess. here's another mistake we made. as we were working to ensure accountability for the program and we've done a great job of that and that's important, we missed the forest for the trees in our explanation. we lost track of the real objective, to jump-start the broader economy. that's where the jobs are going to come from, the main jobs. while the recovery act itself it will create two million jobs, independent analysis confirms
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this, perhaps its most important impact has been renewed confidence it has given our economy. i absolutely, totally, completely believe that. the jobs will come. the jobs will come. they always lag behind the economy. when the economy goes up, the jobs are not far behind. the charts do not lie. we are rebounding. but returning faith to our consumer economy, the recovery act has had a much greater effect than the sum of its parts. so those who oppose the recovery act, they ask, what was your plan? some said, and i presided and i listened to the arguments, we should fill a $2 trillion hole in our economy wit with $200 billion. that was a plan doom to failure. that's what the japanese did and they were faced with a decade of no growth. economists far and wide said that a $200 billion recovery act
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would have failed to have halt the depression. no represent routable -- reputable economist said this would give us where we were a year ago with 730,000 jobs being lost to a 6% growth in gross domestic product for the fourth-quarter of last year. madam president, we have come a long way in this past year. we haven't come far enough yet. we have a long way to go. but i believe to move forward we must remember just how bad things were when we began. just how deep a hole we were in. and we are pulling ourselves out of it now. the recovery act has done its job and will continue to do its job. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor.
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: madam president, i ask unanimous consent to put aside the pending amendment and call up amendment number 354, and at the conclusion of my remarks that the amendment 3354 be withdrawn. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, madam president. my amendment cosponsored by senators schumer and bingaman and merkley would authorize a series of new programs designed to encourage energy efficiency in homes. i'm offering this amendment based on s. 1379, the energy efficiency and housing act to the job creation bill we are debating today because of the
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enormous potential of greenhousing to grow the economy, create jobs, and, of course, save energy. clean energy is the next big global industry. and according to the u.s. green building council, buildings account for 39% of all energy consumption and 38% of carbon dioxide emissions. clearly the housing sector must be a vital part of our energy efficiency efforts. venture capitalists and companies from google to general electric have testified before the senate that this revolution, the clean energy revolution, could be even bigger than the digital revolution. the countries at the forefront of this clean energy revolution will be the economic powerhouses of the next century. right now the united states is
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at risk of falling behind in the race to lead this new economy. of the top 10 solar companies in the world, only one is from the united states. of the top 10 wind power companies in the world, only two are from the united states. when president obama met with senate democrats a few weeks ago, he told us china is not waiting. it is moving. already the anticipation is that they will lap us when it comes to clean energy. well, we can do better than that. we're a country of innovators, a nation that has always sought to be on cutting edge, always sought the new frontier. all we need is for the united states congress to put the right policies in place to promote energy efficiency and encourage the growth of the green economy so that our companies can
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compete head-to-head with their international competition. my amendment is endorsed by over 35 groups including enterprise community partners, the alliance for healthy homes, and the local initiatives support corporation. the u.s. green building council has included it in its list of top 10 pieces of green building legislation in the 111th congress. these groups know that the provisions included in this legislation will boost the greenhousing sector in a number of different ways. first, it would jump-start the market for green mortgages by directing h.u.d. to develop incentives for buyers like reduced rates and greater lending ability and by boosting the secondary green mortgage market. second, it would establish a a revolving loan fund for states to carry out refeeble energy --
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renewable energy. it would also encourage the participation of community development organizations in our most hard-hit neighborhoods in this recession by authorizing a grant program that can be used to help those organization train, educate, and support the workforce for these green energy, clean energy projects. the final provision that i'll highlight here would provide incentives for public housing entities to achieve substantial improvements in their own energy efficiency. i believe that we can maximize energy efficiency savings when we can split the incentives between landlords and tenants. and the landlords will take an interest in pursuing the clean argue initiatives because of the savings that they can make from the upgrades and the tenants can participate in the savings through their conservation efforts. it has to be joint to be at its most effective. madam president, as we continue
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debate ways to put americans back to work, i encourage my colleagues to take a serious look at the greenhousing sector and at my amendment. i think it merits our attention. i hope it will have my colleagues' support on an appropriate bill in the near future, i hope. and i speak on it today to put a spotlight on it so that i have that opportunity. i thank the chair. i thank my colleagues. i yield the floor. and i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings und with. the presiding officer: without objection. the presiding officer: the clerk already report the pvious amendment. the clerk: the senator from rhode island, mr. whitehouse, proposes an amendment number 3354. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the amendment is withdrawn. the senator from michigan.
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mr. levin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate now proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations on the executive calendar: calendar 560, the nomination of terry yonkers to be assistant secretary of the air force, kal ar 563, the nomination of frank kendle to be principal undersct of defense, calendar number 56 4-rbgs the nomination of erin connan, calendar 663, the nomination of paul usberg to be general council of department of the navy, calendar 664, the nomination of malcolm o'neil, calendar 665, the nomination of jacqueline to be assistant secretary of the navy. that the nominations be
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confirmed en bloc; the motions to be reconsidered be laid on the table en bloc, any statements related to the nominations be placed in the record floipt place as if read, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: madam president, i thank the presiding officer. i want to thank colleagues and the leaders who have been involved in facilitating this. it's long overdue, but i want to thank my colleagues for at least making this happen -- helping to make this happen this afternoon. and this will be good news for the defense department, good news for our troops. and, again, i -- i thank all who have been helpful in this regard. and i yield the floor and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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